PENFIELD – Wildland firefighters from the Moshannon State Forest are prepared to deploy out-of-state on an as-needed basis, according to Wayne Wynick, assistant district forester.
“We are at the beginning of what might prove to be a busy season,” he said. “The status of drought conditions and thousands of acres of insect-killed trees in a number of locations throughout the western United States makes the deployment of some of these resources a near certainty before the summer is over.”
From May 28 through June 1, 216 people participated in a wildfire crew training at Camp Karoondinha, BSA, in Union County. The wildfire crew training has been held for 31 consecutive years, according to Wynick.
He said that approximately one-half of the participants were students with the remaining either being instructors or staff members.
On the final day, he said former participants completed new courses to advance to higher ranks. Also, he said new firefighters received their program certification.
“Most are now eligible to accept an assignment when the calls come in from large incidents in ‘fire country,’” said Wynick. “A large number of these folks come from our volunteer community.
“They are associated with a volunteer fire company or on one of our many forest fire warden crews. They are the backbone for dealing with wildfires here in Pennsylvania, and can now be called upon to respond out-of-state, as well. They supplement the contingency of highly-trained Bureau of Forestry staff that are also qualified to respond in many, different positions in support of a wildfire incident.”
According to him, over the years, Pennsylvania resources have developed a reputation for being well-prepared and capable of handling assignments. He said this was proven in Alaska last year when crews from Pennsylvania and several other Northeastern states assisted on a large wildfire
“It was the first time that crews from here had been able to travel to that part of the country, and they represented the state very well,” he said. Wynick said the Alaskan assignment added to the list of states that have received personnel from Pennsylvania since the beginning of the program.
For more information, please view the Wildland Fire Crews Fact Sheet.